Out of a situation which many would give up on, John Pridmore writes a captivating, moving, funny and self-deprecating account of life as an inner-city priest in one of the most deprived parts of London. His jottings, he says, are a collection of the absurd, the poignant and the comic. They are emphatically not a record of 'good practice', he insists, but anyone countenancing working in a city parish will find more wisdom in this book than in all the theological volumes on the subject put together.
For the last ten years John Pridmore has lived what he calls a roller-coaster life as vicar of an inner city parish that incorporates Britain's 'murder mile'. Police raids, gun and knife crimes are everyday events.In this unpromising soil, stands a vast, ugly and largely crumbling building which is the parish church. From here, John says his work is to suggest 'that Christianity might be true'.
It's an uphill struggle, not helped by constant insistence on growth strategies and targets from an increasingly managerial church hierarchy. He is sure the bishop thinks he's doing a terrible job. Yet warmth and love shine from every page. No-one can fail to be moved by this extraordinary memoir.
JOHN PRIDMORE was the Vicar of Hackney until his retirement in 2006. He is a regular columnist on the Church Times and previously lectured at Ridley Hall Cambridge.
'John Pridmore is an Anglican hero - and one of the few writers I know capable of making me a better person. His "failure" in Hackney reveals so much more of the Gospel than the management-obsessed church of which he rightly despairs.'
This book made me laugh out loud, but it also made me cry. It is about what it means to be faithful to Christ even if you are not successful, which is how life is for most of us
what hope I have for the Church of England belongs almost entirely to those places, rural and urban, where the conventional has pretty much broken down. It is the prerequisite for resurrection, for being broken open.
'Pridmore is simultaneously very funny and very serious, which has always been the mark of good theology, in my book. He is fabulously opinionated, strong in his dislikes, reassuringly off-message when it comes to contemporary ecclesiastical discourse. His book is a vital reminder of the best of the Anglican parochial tradition, and that still has something to say and give. We ignore him at our peril. We need this voice now. I recommend this book to anyone. It should certainly be compulsory reading for all who are training for the ministry.'
This book is and will remain unrivalled for those who wish to understand what the job of an Anglican parish priest is like.